Year in review Population, businesses decline

The respondents to an April population change poll must have been dismayed by news later in the year that showed population plummeting and an economy on the decline.

The poll asked Caymanians what they think Cayman’s population numbers should do, and the majority responded that they wanted the population to stay the same or to grow or shrink a little.

“I am of the view that population growth needs to stay the same — large decreases or increases would not bode well for the economy or the socioeconomic welfare of the country,” said one respondent.

“Let the infrastructure of the island catch up to the population it serves,” another respondent said.

In June, Premier McKeeva Bush told the Legislative Assembly that a drop in Cayman’s overall population plus an apparent lag in the processing of work permits was hurting the economy.

“In a country that’s dependant on services of all kinds…this also means that when people in great numbers leave here, there is the loss of their economic contribution,” Mr. Bush said.

The Cayman Islands’ overall population fell in 2009 to 52,830 people from 57,009 in 2008, with 59 per cent of the total population Caymanians.

Although the Caymanian population dipped slightly, a nearly 14 per cent drop in the non-Caymanian population accounted for most of the drop-off.

“It would be ideal if we had all the money in the world,” Mr. Bush said. “But 31,000 Caymanians cannot sustain the economy and cannot sustain the way of life that we have.”

Several changes were proposed by Mr. Bush in regard to the immigration policy in 2010, including a proposed change to the rollover policy, all in hopes of boosting the economy.

In a September address to the country, Mr. Bush said the government will begin “to examine our current immigration policies and to implement procedures which will create fast, efficient, business friendly services for our Caymanian and foreign businesses while ensuring that when our people are qualified and willing to work that they be given first opportunity and priority for jobs.”

Unfortunately, some Cayman businesses went out of business in 2010.

Local kitchenware store Ambience closed its Strand location in March after more than 10 years in business.

“We are paying keen attention to the present economic situation of not only the Cayman Islands but the world on a whole and would like to make the right decisions in making sure Ambience survives the economic downturn,” said owner and manager Christiane Schuette McField.

Restaurant and souvenir shop Señor Frog’s went out of business in May.

“The reality is that we couldn’t continue to sustain losses and had to make the unfortunate decision to close the doors,” said licensee Stefan Baraud. “… until things improve significantly enough with the global economy, we’re at the mercy of that until things turn around.”

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